I’ve mentioned this in previous articles, but it feels like the fighting game scene is in the midst of a brand new Golden Age. With the likes of Street Fighter V, Tekken 7, Samurai Shodown, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Soulcalibur VI all carving out their own success, bringing fighting games to more and more players, there’s never been a better time to get into the world of fighting games.
Unfortunately, there’s plenty of fighting game franchises that have been resigned to history over the years. Whether through poor sales, ill-fated installments or a variety of other reasons, the following fighting games haven’t seen a new game or update in the past couple of years at least, sometimes even longer. That’s a real shame, so we’re throwing together a list of fighting games that deserve a comeback.
Capcom’s fighting game pedigree has been cemented by Street Fighter alone, but the Japanese developers have a host of fighters in their back catalogue, many of which are going unused. Yes, you’ll be seeing a few of those games on this list, but let’s kick things off with Capcom’s venture into the world of the paranormal: Darkstalkers.
The Darkstalkers series took monsters, creatures and fairy tale characters from various folklore around the world to create a varied and uniquely identifiable cast of characters and world. Where else could you see an alien fight a half-vampire monk, or a Yeti batter a merman? Darkstalkers’ cast deserves more than to be relegated to crossover games like Marvel vs Capcom. Let’s make another game in the series, please.
2. Bloody Roar
The game that likely awakened thousands of furries, Bloody Roar was always more of a niche fighting game than titles like Tekken, Dead or Alive or even Virtua Fighter, and believe me, we’ll get to that one. That said, Bloody Roar has a long legacy in video games, with a loyal fan-base of players that are wishing for a new release.
Bloody Roar, which also went under the much more metal name of Beastorizer once upon a time, featured a cast of fighters that were able to transform into anthropomorphised beasts, often based on their fighting style, allowing players to enjoy the spectacle of a man-sized Chinese tiger fighting a giant mole to determine who is stronger. If any game could do with a modern update, it’d be Bloody Roar.
3. Virtua Fighter
While it never achieved the same level of success as the likes of Tekken, despite rising to prominence around the same time, Virtua Fighter is often considered a connoisseur’s pick when it comes to fighting games. SEGA’s foray in the world of fighters is one of the more technical options out there, despite the fact that the game only requires three buttons, and one of them is block.
Even with a legacy spanning 27 years, the series’ last main release was Virtua Fighter 5 on PS3 and Xbox 360 in 2007. It’s been 13 years since then, and we still don’t have a follow-up. The closest we’ve come is VF 5: Final Showdown in 2012, an update that introduced some new characters, but Virtua Fighter’s influence now is as a minigame in other SEGA games, namely Yakuza 6: The Song of Life and Judgment. For a game as brilliant as Virtua Fighter, that’s a fate that is undeserved.
4. Power Stone
Fighting games don’t necessarily have to be input intensive and prohibitive experiences for only the most competent players to enjoy. A fighting game can just as easily be a simple brawl with friends. One such fighting game that seems to have become somewhat of a forgotten gem is the Power Stone series. Considered one of the Dreamcast’s crown jewels, Power Stone has been unfortunately left to rot in Capcom’s library.
An isometric brawler, up to four players competed to grab power-ups and KO each other, while also trying to survive whatever the environment threw at them. The spirit of Power Stone might live on in games like Last Fight and Mighty Fight Federation, but in all honesty, it’d be great to see Capcom return to Power Stone again, even if it’s just a HD Collection for the Switch. That’d be really awesome, actually. Do that.
5. Def Jam
The AKI wrestling games, like WWF No Mercy, are some of the most competitive and enjoyable wrestling/fighting games available, as their blend of strikes, counters and grapples makes for thrilling contests. AKI refined the formula with Def Jam: Vendetta, which replaced wrestlers with famous rappers, before perfecting it with Fight For New York.
Fight For New York allowed players to combine various fighting styles, such as martial arts, wrestling, kickboxing, submissions, street fighting and more, creating new fusions as a result. It was also a game that let you fight Danny Trejo as Carmen Electra, which is worth playing for that alone. I’d love to see EA revisit the series, but I’d be nervous to see it again. Icon wasn’t exactly brilliant, and you just know that all the playable fighters would be Soundcloud rappers you’ve never heard of.
6. Bushido Blade
One of the PS1’s more unique fighters is also one of the most non-traditional, but Bushido Blade still provides top-tier strategy and swordsmanship, making it a wonderful fighting game to behold. Two players fight with weapons in a 3D environment, where any hit could be your last, and strikes deal realistic damage depending on where they hit.
Players could pick from a variety of characters and weapons, providing plenty of potential match-ups, while the nature of the gameplay created both quick encounters and prolonged engagements in equal measure. With the advances made in gaming since the PS1, a modern Bushido Blade could truly take advantage of better hit detection to create a more polished take on a classic video game.
It’s likely that you’ve never heard of Weaponlord, and that’s fine. If that’s the case, the video above should do everything to get you up to speed. Suffice to say, Weaponlord is hype, and it should be brought back in some way. Originally released for the SNES back in 1995, Weaponlord was created by James Goddard and Dave Winstead, both of whom cut their teeth working on Super Street Fighter 2 for Capcom before joining Namco to create Weaponlord.
A 2D weapons-based fighter, Weaponlord is all about the mechanics, with each character possessing around 10 unique special moves. On top of that, abilities such as the parry-esque thrust-blocking and Weaponlord’s stylish answer to Mortal Kombat’s fatalities, Death Combos, made Weaponlord a brilliant fighting game, and one that deserves a second chance. Fans have already imagined what a rebooted Weaponlord would look like today, and it’d be wonderful to see it become reality.
8. Fight Night
Is it me, or have boxing games just disappeared for the most part? It feels like the last big name boxing title was Fight Night Champion, which was all the way back in 2011. EA were big on boxing games for a long time, but ever since they acquired the rights to create UFC games after THQ fell through, it felt like they’ve thrown boxing to the side like a discarded toy.
While it’s true that MMA has cut into the success of boxing over recent years, superstars such as Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua have brought the spotlight back to boxing more and more. There’s nothing wrong with EA’s UFC titles, but just like how boxing and MMA can exist separate from each other, there’s no reason why Fight Night and UFC can’t exist together either.
9. Rival Schools/Project Justice
Capcom’s fighting game vaults have plenty of old, knackered toys that the Japanese developer isn’t doing anything with, and one such property is Rival Schools. A companion to the Street Fighter series, as characters and family relations are shared across both games, Rival Schools differentiated itself from Street Fighter by focusing on team-based gameplay instead.
While Rival Schools introduced the new formula into the mix, Project Justice was an improvement in almost every way. Players picked teams of three characters, but the action was confined to 1v1 fighting, while the other characters acted as assists. You could utilise Team-Up attacks to decimate opponents, and every character had moves that fed into the schoolyard aesthetic. It was silly, over-the-top, and quite frankly we could do with more of it. Heck, even if Capcom just put Batsu into Street Fighter, that’d be fine. There’s a killer character design they’re doing nothing with.
10. Killer Instinct
You might think Killer Instinct is a surprising inclusion, and for the most part you’re right. Compared to the rest of the games on this list, KI has had its time in the spotlight more recently, but to say that it’s alive and kicking at the moment is questionable. Despite launching in 2013, the latest Killer Instinct has a dwindling player count and an inactive competitive scene, rendering it effectively dead in the water.
That said, there’s still vocal demand for Microsoft to create a brand new game in the series. The #BringBackKI campaign from a few months back, spearheaded by influencers like Maximilian Dood, proved that the series is still in the hearts and minds of fighting game fans around the world. With a brand new Xbox on the horizon, why not follow on from the 2013 game and announce the sequel as a launch title?
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